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The press kit that comedian Paula Poundstone’s people sent around mentions her “long-standing commitment to serving the community,” which we now know has been redefined as 200 hours of court-ordered community service. There is also a page devoted to explaining the settlement of the criminal case against her, which included allegations of child abuse: “Paula is a loving, single parent who has fostered eight children and adopted three of them.” And there’s no reason to doubt it. The worst charges were dropped and—although the records are sealed—the essence of the complaint is that Poundstone had been drinking and then drove the kids to get ice cream. Not wise, not funny, but let’s be honest: not terribly uncommon. But the tabloid rumors have a longer life than the reality, and so the lanky and amiable comic must now seek absolution in the court of public opinion. Like Paul “Pee-wee Herman” Reubens—who famously rehabilitated himself by joking about his “crime” on the MTV Video Music Awards shortly after his arrest—will she find the humor in her pain? Or will the politically active Poundstone—who wrote a column for Mother Jones magazine—take a cue from Lenny Bruce, whose final performances consisted almost entirely of transcript readings from the myriad court cases against him? You can sit home and watch former child stars beat each other up on TV, or you can watch a woman plead for her life and children back: In 2002, this is comedy. Poundstone performs at 8 p.m. Friday, March 29, at the Warner Theatre, 13th and E Streets NW. $28-$34. (202) 432-7328. (Dave Nuttycombe)